Championship Match:  Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Dominic Thiem (AUT)
Nadal did not go into this year’s Roland Garros with his usual dominance. In a year when he has been plagued by numerous injuries and ailments, Nadal was lacking in clay court titles. Today’s opponent got the best of Nadal in Barcelona earlier this season, preventing the “king of clay” from winning his twelfth tittle in Barcelona.
That loss was in addition to his loss the week before in Monte Carlo, another tournament where he has been dominant; thus, everyone began to wonder if Nadal had enough inner conviction to win another French Open title.
Nadal’s Path To The Final
Nadal got lucky with his first two opponents; they were both qualifiers ranked outside the top hundred. His first real challenge came in the third round when a former top ten player, David Goffin, took the third set by playing some inspired tennis.
Nadal’s luck continued when rain disrupted the schedule and forced his two biggest threats on clay to play three consecutive days without rest. Although Thiem is eight years younger, playing three consecutive days at a major had to have taken a toll, making many wonder how much would the Austrian have left to fight today’s battle.
It was a three-hour battle, protracted in part because of Nadal’s ability to work the points, maximizing the damage he does to his opponent’s legs. It was a tentative start from both players. As great as Nadal is on clay, he still feels the pressure of playing in the final of a major and Thiem was just as tense at the prospect of potentially dethroning the king and winning his first major title. Thiem broke first, but could not hold onto his lead.
Thiem Fights Back
Thiem was not discouraged after he dropped the first set, instead he redoubled his efforts and capitalized on the only break point he got in the second set to even the match. Yet, the energy expended to win the second set was too much and the Austrian could not mount any resistance in the remaining two sets. Nadal won 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to claim his twelfth Roland Garros title.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (Getty Images Europe)